City to de­velop 2,000 mar­ket-rent, af­ford­able rental units

Hous­ing min­is­ter says work on one site could be­gin as early as next spring, with 600 low-cost homes


Toronto is mov­ing for­ward with the de­vel­op­ment of 2,000 mar­ket-rent and af­ford­able rental hous­ing units, through a pro­vin­cial agree­ment to un­lock sur­plus land across the city.

“There are far too many peo­ple who need to live in this city, who we need to have live in this city, who we want to live in the city, who would have an in­come that wouldn’t al­low them to live af­ford­ably in this city,” Mayor John Tory said.

The rental prop­er­ties will be built on two lots in the West Don Lands, as well as the site of a multi-level park­ing lot on Grosvenor St. and the old pro­vin­cial coro­ner’s of­fice on Grenville St.

Tory’s re­marks were made dur­ing a press con­fer­ence with pro­vin­cial Hous­ing Min­is­ter Peter Mil­czyn, at one fu­ture site near St. Lawrence Mar­ket, on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The land will go up for sale on Thurs­day and devel­op­ers will be in­vited to sub­mit pro­pos­als, with the un­der­stand­ing the prop­erty must be used for af­ford­able and mar­ket-rent hous­ing.

The prov­ince will profit from the sale, but the ex­pec­ta­tion is the land will sell for less than it would if it was put on the mar­ket with no re­stric­tions, Mil­czyn said.

They hope to have the first round of pro­pos­als within a month and work could be­gin on one site as early as next spring, he said. The de­ci­sion to un­lock the prop­erty was an­nounced in late April.

Mil­czyn said at least 30 per cent or 600 rental homes will be af­ford­able. In Toronto, af­ford­able is de­fined as rental units cost­ing at or be­low the av­er­age rent across the city.

The re­main­ing 1,400 will be at the “low end” of mar­ket rent, or the av­er­age rent for sim­i­lar-sized prop­er­ties across the city.

“So all of th­ese units, com­pared to some of the other build­ings that are around us, will be more af­ford­able than you would oth­er­wise see in the city,” he said.

At least one in 10 of the new units will be de­signed for large fam­i­lies, he said.

“Fam­i­lies should be able to live in th­ese com­mu­ni­ties,” Mil­czyn said.

The city will be waiv­ing $27.9 mil- lion in fees, charges and prop­erty taxes to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of the 600 af­ford­able units through the city’s Open Door Pro­gram.

Ken­neth Hale, di­rec­tor of le­gal ser­vice with the Ad­vo­cacy Cen­tre for Ten­ants On­tario, said one con­cern is ac­cord­ing to fed­eral and pro­vin­cial agree­ments, af­ford­able hous­ing is de­fined as less or equal to 80 per cent of mar­ket rent.

“Eighty per cent of Toronto rent is not af­ford­able to the peo­ple who need hous­ing most in this city,” Hale said, and par­tic­u­larly peo­ple re­ceiv­ing so­cial as­sis­tance.

In Toronto, more than 181,000 peo­ple are on wait-lists for af­ford­able hous­ing.

On Wed­nes­day, Tory said the city has “great plans to do more” and peo­ple should “stay tuned for us mak­ing more land avail­able,” for af­ford­able hous­ing.

Coun­cil­lor Ana Bailao, the city’s hous­ing ad­vo­cate, said the de­vel­op­ment will “serve an im­por­tant need,” by pro­vid­ing safe, af­ford­able and long-term hous­ing for fam­i­lies and work­ers in the down­town.

Tory and Bailao praised late coun­cil­lor Pam McCon­nell, who passed away in July and was de­voted to so­cial jus­tice and the cre­ation of af­ford­able hous­ing. Bailao said McCon­nell’s vi­sion of an in­clu­sive city was a pow­er­ful re­minder that equal­ity is a shared re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Next week, Bailao will be pre­sent­ing in­for­ma­tion on the cre­ation of an ad­di­tional 298 units, in seven de­vel­op­ments, run by not-for-profit, co­op­er­a­tive and pri­vate sec­tor or­ga­ni­za­tions, to the city’s af­ford­able hous­ing com­mit­tee.

The city will be in­vest­ing a fur­ther $22.4 mil­lion in “cap­i­tal fund­ing and fees, charges and prop­erty tax re­lief,” also through the Open Door pro­gram, Bailao said in a re­lease.

The city will, for the first time, meet and ex­ceed an an­nual tar­get to ap­prove more than 1,000 af­ford­able units an­nu­ally, she said.


On­tario Hous­ing Min­is­ter Peter Mil­czyn, right, and Mayor John Tory an­nounce that 2,000 rental units will be built on un­locked pro­vin­cial lands.

Coun­cil­lor Ana Bailao said the de­vel­op­ment will “serve an im­por­tant need.”

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